In Swingers, a man on the make had to talk the talk. His gift of gab was a form of grace under pressure. Dylan Kidd’s searingly written and acted Roger Dodger has some of that same alpha-bachelor spirit, but it unfolds in a far bleaker world. It’s a portrait of a veteran Manhattan swinger, played with bitter cascading brilliance by Campbell Scott, who can talk the talk better than anyone else, only this time he’s talking circles around himself — a blue streak of patter you can’t stop listening to, even when it turns to poison.
Scott’s sardonic charmer has just gotten dumped by his latest flame (Isabella Rossellini), who happens to be his ad-agency boss. Confronted by a visit from his teenage nephew (Jesse Eisenberg), he takes the kid out to a ritzy pickup bar, promising to show him the ways of seduction. He shows him that and a lot more — the ways of failure, male rage, and stupid horny desperation. Roger Dodger is a little too programmed in its despair, but it coasts along on the jagged music of the modern lothario’s song.